Red Faction players take on the role of an alienated mine worker, slaving away in the endless tunnels and shafts deep beneath the surface of a futuristic Mars. As the proletariat mine workers are continuously pushed harder and further by the heartless corporation that owns the mines, a deep resentment grows. When a strange malady known as "the Plague" breaks out in the mines, the workers finally begin to revolt. As the game's hero Parker, it is the player's first objective to simply survive the violent coup. This is the unusual premise for the first-person shooter, developed for both the PlayStation 2 and IBM Compatible PC platforms. In support of the game's storyline Red Faction also features some strong aspects of role-playing and adventure, as the character must often think and talk his way through situations instead of mindlessly plowing ahead with a finger wrapped around the trigger.
The designers at Volition are known for developing the successful FreeSpace series of space combat sims, based in the ground-breaking Descent universe. This experience is put to use in Red Faction, as several of the game's missions will require the player to pilot various vehicles, across land, sea, and air. Another innovation provided in Red Faction is the introduction of Volition's "Geo-Mod" engine, which allows realistically deformable, destructible environments. While solid rock and reinforced steel walls will prevent the character from simply blasting his way through a level in whichever direction he pleases, most walls and objects can be damaged or destroyed with weapon fire and some missions will require that the player make use of this ability.